2019 has been emotional. ELLES has been behind one of the stand out releases soundtracking the year – a beatless dreamscape of tender electronics released on Naivety, a sub-label of Naive.Elsewhere, she is a regular host on East London’s Netil Radio and, after a successful summer residency, one of 2020’s new faces of Rinse FM. She has plenty in the pipeline for 2020 so we thought it apt to catch up with her ahead of her show this weekend as part of Fade To Zaire’s two room throw down at Corsica Studios.
On Friday, ELLES will play a live set, joining Ivan Smagghe, Seven Hills Records and Desert Sound Colony for a night full of freaky contortion. Make sure to get down to the ‘Studios and be prepared to well up – it’s going to be emotional.
Sum up your 2019 in review, go!
Umm.. transformative, revelatory, emotionally difficult, hard work, rewarding, exciting, blessed. Lots of highs, not always been an easy one but nothing worth doing is, amirite?
…And what/who should we be looking out for in 2020?
Me? Haha. Well, I have a lot more music coming out- an EP on Naive in Feb, a collab with Shcuro on his EP out on Dark Entries, and also an EP for his label Paraiso, a remix for F2Z, a couple compilation tracks and some other projects I’ve been working on which have a slightly different musical direction. And of course I’ll be out in the world playing records and on Rinse and that too. But yeh, lots of great things coming up and super excited for it all tbh.
In terms of other artists, check out Lisbon folks like the Mina crew- Odete and BLEID are amazing and two of my favourite artists, the scene there has produced a number of extremely quality DJs and producers, such as aforementioned Shcuro who you should also check if you’re not already familiar!
On a more London flex, DJ-wise, both Soraya and DJ Caring, who have each been guests on my Rinse show are excellent, also Whitney Weiss who is a Paris-based DJ with a show on Rinse France and some serious production skills (which I think are due to launch on the world sometime in 2020…).
Can you talk a little about how you first got into music making and your first experiences of clubs and electronic music?
Well I always wanted to make music, when I was little I used to sing constantly, record pretend radio shows in my room and write little songs and stuff like that lol. I always really wanted to be in a band tbh but was too shy to go and actually join one. And I didn’t think really it was possible for me to pursue music in a real sense growing up, or that I was good enough to. I got into DJing through going to parties and stuff and discovered it as an excellent vehicle for channeling this passion for music. The desire to be creating as well as playing was always there nagging away, so I dabbled in stuff here and there but didn’t really have the confidence to do my own stuff for ages. Then one day I was like, ‘ok if you don’t do something about actually making music in a real way, you’ll never be happy, even if no-one listens or cares you need to do it for yourself’. So I did.
I started with a cracked copy of Ableton and the slowest laptop in the world, and initially got quite bogged down in thinking I had to sound like a specific thing but when I eventually gave myself permission to make whatever I felt, that’s when it clicked. Even more so when I could afford to buy the proper software and some bits of equipment etc and the process wasn’t being endlessly hindered by intermittent crashing.
There is a lot to be said for the possibilities of software and the open road, so-to-speak: just go for a walk with these seemingly limitless sounds and see what turns up. Not knocking any other methods of music-making of course, but for me starting out with little resources to buy stuff and no confidence in my ability, it gave me freedom and a level of empowerment to create and learn on my own terms.
You released ’emo_ecstasy_everything’ on Violet’s Naivety this year. Can you talk a little how the release came about and your history with Violet?
Ines (Violet) and I met through her bf Marco (Photonz) and were Twitter friends for ages before we became IRL besties when they both moved to London. I love them both dearly as people, producers, everything. She is the first person I ask for opinion on my music and on many things. I’m so proud of everything she’s achieved- she’s worked extremely hard, has genuine soulfulness and integrity, is mad talented and deserves all the recognition and praise in the world. The same can be said for Marco. They are an exceptional pair of people.
She and I made a few tracks together for International Women’s Day a couple of years ago, (which was initially her project but she invited me to collaborate on some all womxn covers of acid house classics) then we made a couple of original tracks together which were out last year. She’s always been in my corner encouraging to put more production out in the world and believing in me like the queen she is.
For E_E_E, I’d made the tracks without having any specific aim for them really, sent them to her for general opinion and she was suggested putting them out on Naivety. The quality of both Naive & Naivety’s outputs is so so high, I’m beyond stoked to be on that roster. And it feels so special to have my first EP on there as the tracks feel very true to myself too. Dream debut situation.
What’s your favourite Emo band? You can only name one.
It’s an all emo-cover encore, so you’ll find out then ;)
What is your approach to making an EP of predominately beatless music? Where does the inspiration come from when making sound palettes?
Usually will find note or a sound that triggers something and take it from there, I like to include field recordings or sounds from nature and pair with synth-y or drone elements but it really depends. They’re quite emotion-led tracks tbh, and I cry at everything (in a good way) so there’s a bit of that in there. Also a bit of a cinematic approach in there too I guess, soundtracking a narrative that takes place across the EP. Ultimate goal is to make music that either makes you want to cry, dance or have sex, like all good pop music, so that’s always a consideration. Actually few people did tell me E_E_E made them cry when they listened to it (I’m assuming in a goodish way?) which is kinda the biggest compliment, so hopefully further EPs will nail the other two aspects or all three at once and then I can finally think about adding some more feelings to my repertoire.
You have a regular show on Netil Radio and were a summer resident on Rinse this year. How do your sets on radio differ to your sets in clubs? Is there any crossover between the two?
I’m now on the Rinse roster as a permanent fixture actually, which is amazing. I’ve always listened to and loved Rinse FM, so it’s an honour to be doing a show with them regularly. I play a range of stuff on there but usually on the more pumpy side, whereas on Netil I’m a bit more freestyle and sometimes do genre-specific specials or play more ambient stuff. I did a Riot Grrrrl special once which was one of my fave shows. Although I wouldn’t say there are hard and fast rules for either show tbh. And I’m mega grateful to have the opportunity to play music I love on such excellent stations on a regular basis.
What three items should listeners have close to hand when listening to you on radio?
Just turn up however you are/ with whatever you have. My door is always open, listener(s).
Who’s been your favourite guest on radio this year?
No favourites I love them all! Several have had honourable mentions earlier in the interview but also big love to Shay/ Adonis – who do the best parties and where I’m playing on New Years Day, and mon ami the excellent Ivan Smagghe who is my guest on Rinse this week.